Simple Indeed, or The Audacity of Cluelessness

The International Herald Tribune showcases the astonishing cluelessness of people who are presumably among the best and brightest of Obama's supporters:

When a dozen consumers gathered over the weekend to discuss health care at the behest of President-elect Barack Obama, they quickly agreed on one point: they despise health insurance companies.

They also agreed that health care was a right; that insurance should cover "everything," not just some services; and that coverage should be readily available from the government, as well as from employers.

"We have to keep the momentum going," said Hijane, 34, who was a volunteer in the Obama campaign and is active in women's health advocacy. "We are not lobbyists. We are simple citizens."

Truer words were never spoken. For example:

Li said she and her husband "had a few surprises" when they started shopping for a better health insurance policy on their own. "If we wanted a baby," Li said, "insurers would not cover the maternity care if conception occurred within six months after we purchased the insurance. We were shocked."

In many cases, the standard individual insurance policy does not cover maternity care, though such coverage can be bought for an additional premium. Even then, some insurers stipulate that maternity benefits will be available only if a woman waits for a certain amount of time before becoming pregnant.

The purpose of insurance is to pool risk. Consumers pay a modest premium in exchange for a promise by the insurer to cover unexpected catastrophic expenses. Pregnancy, as a condition which is typically induced voluntarily, is not an insurable condition. Granted, an abnormal pregnancy or birth which entails unusual expenses is insurable, but this is presumably not what Li is talking about. I'd be surprised if insurers refused to cover any non-preexisting complications of pregnancy, except due to unintended consequences of government regulations.

That Li and her husband were "shocked" at the fact that insurance companies were not jumping at the chance to give them free money can only be explained by a failure to put any thought whatsoever into the economics of insurance and health care. This is certainly not a personal failing on their part—no one can be an expert on everything—but they are clearly unqualified to design a health care system, and their attempt to force their ill-conceived vision on the rest of us is grossly irresponsible.

Almasri said that when his infant daughter had severe eczema, she had to wait several months to see a dermatologist in their HMO network. By then, he said, "the symptoms were all cleared up."

I find that hard to believe, but granting for the sake of argument that it's true, I'm perplexed by the implication that this is a problem that would be remedied by socialized medicine. Prompt treatment of non-emergency conditions is not one of its strong point.

Hijane said she had gone from doctor to doctor for more than a year before she got correct diagnoses for premature ovarian failure and celiac disease, a digestive disorder.

A shame, to be sure, but I'm not sure I see how the revolution will improve doctors' diagnostic skills. And under a socialized system, it's unlikely that she would have been able to see as many doctors as she did. The fact that the status quo is not perfect does not in any way imply that what she's proposing will be an improvement.

The Obama transition team did not ask people how a new health care system should be financed, but several people here said that individuals and businesses should have to pay a small health care tax — some preferred to call it a "contribution" — so that everyone could be covered.

Note the inability to call a spade a spade.

"This is warfare for the health care of our country," Chatman said. "The question is, Will money win, or will the people win? If we lose, we'll be a second-class country."

I have been meaning for some time to compile a lexicon of words and slogans that signal a worldview divorced from reality. When I do, "People, not profits" will be the first entry.

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Not sure which feeling is

Not sure which feeling is stronger: the joy of seeing those arguments destroyed, or the painfull reminder that the world births more such thinking than can possibly be countered.

Feeling and reason (or lack thereof)

The world births more such feeling. How does that feel? heh

need to differentiate between insurance and medical service

"Health Insurance" was originally known as major medical insurance. It only covered emergencies and overnight hospital stays. Company group plans usually covered pregnancies pre or post employment but not both. What now passes for health insurance is actually a prepaid medical service.

My Wife has been a member of Group Health (Seattle) for 30 years and been very satisfied with their operation, pun intended.

If this was meant to be an

If this was meant to be an attack on Obama, then I think it's not right to pass judgment on him through his supporters. Otherwise, it's just an another case of miseducation. If everybody was "intelligent" enough, then the world might be as less problematic as it is today.